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Aussies call up Hughes for Hayden

AUSTRALIA selectors opted for 20-year-old Phillip Hughes to replace retired opener Matthew Hayden as they named the most inexperienced squad in a generation for the three-test tour of South Africa.

Australia, coming off its first test series loss on home soil in 16 years and needing to win the return series in South Africa to retain its No. 1 ranking, also had to contend with retirements and injuries to frontline bowlers in naming the squad yesterday.

Hughes, a stylish left-hander who has scored four hundreds for New South Wales, won a three-way race to fill the opening slot in the 14-man squad created when 103-test veteran Hayden quit following the 1-2 series loss to South Africa last month.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who made his debut at age 21 in 1995, said Hughes deserved a chance. "He's done absolutely everything in his power to give himself the best chance to be picked, his record for New South Wales has been outstanding."

Hughes, who scored 891 runs at an average of 74 this season, is part of a squad that only contains three survivors of Australia's last tour to South Africa in 2006.

The "ultimate dream at such a young age is to play for your country and now I'm one step closer," Hughes said.

The search for a quality spin bowling option to replace retired Shane Warne continues, with 36-year-old Victorian Bryce McGain earning a call-up along with finger-spinner Nathan Hauritz.

Hughes edged Phil Jacques and Chris Rogers for the top order spot alongside Simon Katich.

With Brett Lee and Stuart Clark unavailable because of injuries, Mitchell Johnson, 27, who has 78 wickets in 18 tests, is the most experienced of the pacemen. Joining him in the pace ranks are Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus.


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